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NBDA Seeks Action on Web Sales Tax

Published November 15, 2011

COSTA MESA, CA (BRAIN)—The National Bicycle Dealers Association is calling on members nationwide to reach out to U.S. lawmakers in support of proposed federal legislation on taxing online sales.

“We urge every bicycle dealer and NBDA member to contact their elected officials by phone and e-mail urging their support for legislation to address this important issue,” the NBDA said in a statement. “If you are tired of seeing Internet sellers taking sales from you because they are not collecting sales tax, now is the time to act. … This is truly a national issue that impacts all small businesses with physical stores and harms the nation’s economy. The NBDA believes an immediate federal solution is needed to close this loophole in the law.”

Several pieces of legislation on the issue are circulating on Capitol Hill, the most recent being the Marketplace Fairness Act, introduced Nov. 9 by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Michael Enzi, R-Wyo. The measure would require most online, catalog and other remote retailers to collect sales tax from customers.

Meanwhile in the House, the Marketplace Equity Act—introduced last month by Reps. Steve Womack, R-Ark., and Jackie Speier, D-Calif.—would require online companies that do not have a physical presence in the state to collect and remit state sales taxes.

Both measures exempt small businesses, with the Senate proposal setting the threshold at $500,000 in annual sales and the House measure at $100,000 in an individual state per year or $1 million in national sales annually.

NBDA executive director Fred Clements noted he would like to see those exemptions eliminated or reduced to make for what he views as a more equitable competitive environment among retailers. “We would support any of the current legislation and do so strongly, but if we could get in there and write it ourselves, we would make the exemption as low as possible,” he said.

While he doesn’t see any of the current proposals as ideal, Clements noted the NBDA backs swift legislative action in the interest of breaking the decade-long federal impasse on taxing online sales. “The big companies would have to collect sales tax, and that’s an improvement over what we have now,” he said.

Early this month, Clements attended an advocacy summit in Washington on sales tax reform along with representatives from the bookselling, hobby, toy and other industries affected by the issue. He visited the offices of Durbin, Speier, Womack and other lawmakers involved with addressing online sales taxation. “It’s a very fluid issue,” said Clements, who expects additional legislation to be introduced soon.

Boulder, Colorado-based trade group Outdoor Industry Association also recently voiced its support for the Marketplace Equity Act. “Brick-and-mortar specialty outdoor retailers are currently at a competitive disadvantage to Internet-only retailers that don’t always collect sales tax,” OIA president and chief executive Frank Hugelmeyer said in a statement. “OIA supports a level playing field for all retailers in the outdoor industry.”

—Toby Hill

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